TRANSFEERO: Reliable airport transfers worldwide
Book a private transfer at over 1500 airports, stations and ports worldwide

The people of Etna do not consider the volcano as an inanimate thing, but as a living being. They call it a “she”, a “mum”, and not surprisingly. In fact, this mountain seems to “have a behavior”, just like a human, and proves to be welcoming, generous, affectionate … or mischievous! Anyone who doesn’t live under a volcano won’t understand the meaning but, yes, Etna is capable of playing jokes! Even bad jokes. And we’re not talking about violent eruptions… that’s its job. Bad jokes such as the paroxysm that occurred on May 21, 2023.

Etna, a one-year waiting

After three years of amazing eruptive shows, in May 2022 Etna produced its last eruption before a very long period of quiet. With the exception of the strange fractures filled with lava, which opened a few months later in complete silence inside the Valle del Bove, there were no more eruptions for a year. The curious people, the tourists, the enthusiasts but also the volcanologists anxiously awaited a new event. And finally, starting in April 2023, something seemed to be changing and … definitely moving. The volcano was awakening.

old eruption photo-by Grazia Musumeci
old eruption photo-by Grazia Musumeci

The fake alarm and the new paroxysm

After a series of localized seismic swarms, in the week of 15-20 May, the INGV instruments noticed a considerable movement of the magma under the summit craters. As if the molten rock mass were looking for a way out, also causing ground deformation and increased tremor.

The volcanologists have thus alerted the Civil Protection Volunteers, as they always do as a rule. But this exchange of information, due to some strange misunderstanding, reached the ears of the press media which launched a “red alert” and created excessive panic. In fact, nothing that was happening on Etna was “anomalous” or “extraordinary”. The eruption was imminent, but without any drama or concern.

But they did not even have time to reset the fake alarm, and this time the eruption really started. It “chose” to do it on a gloomy, dark, cloudy day, with a Mediterranean hurricane lashing Sicily, covering and hiding any view of the volcano! The paroxysm has begun, but “behind closed doors”, no one has been able to admire it!

A very Etna-style joke

It must have been a beautiful paroxysm too! The inhabitants of the south-west side clearly heard the great roars of the lava fountains and the confirmation that they were not dreams arrived shortly after, in the form of lapilli. Many towns on the southern flank were covered by black sand, while at the top of the volcano a large flow of lava made its way through the late spring snow.

In the evening, the paroxysm ended. Only the lava stream was left to illuminate the clouds… which never moved away from the top of the volcano!

A very Etna-style joke, this one. Erupting with such violence at a time when no one, not even the closest webcams to the craters, could see the show! Like a capricious diva who avoids the paparazzi … like a disdainful queen who drives away troublesome subjects. Now tell us if whoever is capable of planning such a “joke” isn’t also absolutely and undoubtedly a thinking and living being?

Will there be more eruptions?

The next question is always the same. And now, after the show, will there be more eruptions? We do not know. All we can do is rely on volcanologists who, with their instruments, follow the path of the magma inside the body of the volcano.

But even if the magma moves, even if it rises, the eruption will not necessarily occur. As mentioned, Etna is a living and thinking being, and it’s up to her alone to decide when and how. And also WHO will have the privilege of seeing it. You better do not to push her, do not insist too much … . As you have seen, sometimes she also knows how to punish the curious. With disappointments that are not easily forgotten!
(the big photo is by SKYLINE WEBCAM & FUNIVIA DELL’ETNA)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

Airport Transfers